J.W. Salyers has resigned his position as teacher and baseball coach at Union to take similar positions at Wise Central. Meanwhile, one of his good friends, David Wyrick, has accepted the baseball coaching and teaching position at Union.
With the exception of the 2016 season, Salyers has been head coach at Union since Powell Valley and Appalachia consolidated to form the school. Prior to that, Salyers was the baseball coach at Powell Valley from 2008-11. He was baseball coach at Castlewood for four seasons before taking the position at Powell Valley.
“It’s definitely tough to leave Union,” said Salyers. “It’s a great school and a great community, and I’ve been fortunate to work with great kids since I’ve been there.”
Salyers is moving for two primary reasons: He feels coaching at Central will be a new challenge and is a great opportunity. Perhaps more important, Salyers is changing schools to help benefit his family.
Salyers has a son in the seventh grade who is a special needs student and will be moving to the high school in a couple of years. Since Salyers lives in Pound, his son will be attending Central.
“My wife and I feel it’s best not to move him (from his school district), and we feel it’s best that I’m at the school that he goes to,” he said.
As far as coaching at Central, Salyers said he’s excited and ready to hit the ground running.
“When the coaching opportunity came open, it was great for me both professionally and personally,” said Salyers, who was an all-state pitcher at the former Pound High School in 1994 before going to Walters State Community College and then playing professionally in the Montreal Expos’ farm system from 1996-2001.
Central is in the Mountain 7 District along with Union. Both schools are also part of the Wise County school system.
“We’re all pretty much small towns here. I’m familiar with the program and you pretty much know what you have and who’s coming back,” said Salyers.
BACK IN THE GAME
Wyrick will replace Salyers at Union, giving the former state championship coach another chance to manage a baseball program at the high school level.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to lead young men again,” Wyrick said. “I have not been this excited professionally in a long time.”
Wyrick coached at the former St. Paul High School from 1998-03, where his teams won five Cumberland District championships.
In 2003, Wyrick took over coaching duties at the former J.J. Kelly High School, and guided the program to three Lonesome Pine District championships, one Region D championship and a VHSL Group A state championship in 2008.
He left the program after the 2009 season.
Wyrick left when his oldest daughter, Haley, began her prep career. He stayed out the business as a head coach during the careers of Haley and his youngest daughter, Hannah. The latter graduated from Eastside this spring and will be playing collegiate basketball at Milligan. Haley also played collegiate basketball at Milligan.
During Wyrick’s tenure away from the field, his wife also became seriously ill.
“I was definitely where I needed to be at the time,” said Wyrick.
During the time off, Wyrick’s spiritual growth also got stronger. His faith actually played a key role in his decision to take the position at Union.
“It was really not me saying, ‘This is where I want to be.’ It was more of me just saying, ‘Lord, put me where I need to be,’ ” he said.
Salyers could think of no one he would rather have replace him at Union more than Wyrick.
“Coach Salyers and I are good friends, and I have a great deal of respect for him both professionally and personally,” Wyrick said.
As for Salyers’ thoughts on Wyrick, “Dave is one of my best friends on the planet. Baseball in Southwest Virginia is better off with David Wyrick in it,” Salyers said. “I may not feel that way on game day, but any other time, it’s better off with him in it.”